Enjoy the Small Blessings in Life (like Birthday Freebies!)

“The best things in life are free.”

“Nothing in life is free.”

These are two very different statements and both have significant ramifications for how and what we choose to pursue in life. Maybe it is possible that both carry truth and are worthy of intellectual pursuit. Well, we will save that for another day because today is my birthday and over the last nine years I have discovered that in fact some things in life are free (or basically free), especially on your birthday. Those things are called birthday freebies! And, as I am learning more and more to appreciate even the smallest blessings in life, I am proudly here to accept what has become one of my annual birthday blessings.

Continue reading “Enjoy the Small Blessings in Life (like Birthday Freebies!)”

My First Trip to Las Vegas: Is It Worth the Hype?

After returning from my first trip to Las Vegas, I was tasked with answering the usual post-vacation question– “how was it?” People who have never been to Las Vegas were secretly curious about whether I would divulge my “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” stories. Just how wild and crazy did this little lady right here get in Vegas? They didn’t have to come right out and say it, but I know they secretly wanted to know.

On the other hand, my other friends that previously visited Vegas were more curious about how I digested everything the infamous city had to offer. Well, for everyone wondering how my first trip to Las Vegas went, or for any other Las Vegas virgins out there that may have lived a slightly sheltered life like me, fasten your seat belts as we enter my version of wild and crazy– more like “obeying the speed limit”– edition to Vegas.

But, don’t worry! Although I didn’t personally live on the wild side, I got a solid understanding of where the wild side begins and ends in Vegas. Simply, here are my thoughts about Las Vegas:

There is something in Vegas for everyone — the old, young, boring, wild, mellow, sheltered, and daredevils, respectively. Vegas is what you choose to make it. If you want wild and crazy, there’s a place for you. If you want relaxed and chill, then there’s a place for you too! Let’s just say that I saw entire families with kids, the elderly, and everyone in between enjoying parts of The Strip. Like I said, there’s a place for everyone.

Overall, after sorting out my feelings, the pros, and the cons, I can definitely say I will be back!

Oh Las Vegas, you are very different, but I like you a lot.

Here are some more details and pictures from my trip. Enjoy!

Lights, lights, lights: To be expected, The Strip was grand, bright, and full of food options, fashion, entertainment, people, characters, and lots of bright lights. If I’m being totally honest, I should admit that I was very underwhelmed in my first hour in Vegas. I checked into the hotel around 7:30pm from the backside, right behind The Strip. I was expecting to see more people, more madness, more… I don’t know, but it just wasn’t what I expected. The area just seemed like any other city.  I couldn’t wrap my head around the hype in the first hour. But then again, I had not yet hit The Strip. I could see the bright lights from my hotel but it seemed surprisingly normal from where I stood. The Mr. had traveled to Vegas numerous times, so he kept reassuring me to  “wait until we get to The Strip.” What was lying right outside the front of the hotel started to sound exciting. So, ?I let go of the early judgement and decided to give The Strip a chance to woo me. Once we walked onto The Strip, it slowly started to make more sense…

Everything is bigger, brighter, and louder in Vegas. As I walked along The Strip slowly taking in the first night, there was so much to see that I couldn’t capture it all. As I tried to reconcile my preconceptions with the reality of Vegas, I spent most of my first night feeling out The Strip and determining whether we would make a good fit.


Behind the lights and inside the resorts and malls were just as ornate and grand views as presented on the outside. It’s a game of who can do it bigger and better, and I liked it. For example, all images below were taken INSIDE buildings. Yes, even the gondola ride and what looks like a statue beneath a blue sky!  (hover over the image for exact locations).

Freedom of Alcohol: Did you know that Nevada allows open containers, cocktails, and “refreshments” in specific areas on The Strip in Las Vegas? Also, did you know that the casinos serve free unlimited drinks (small tip per drink if you wish) as you sit and gamble? [Note: Always check for updates to local guidelines before your travel!] Well, I definitely had no idea! And this my friends is one reason why I say Vegas is what you make it. If you want to walk around drinking 24 hours of the day, in the shower, on the street, in restaurants, and even in your bed, you can. If you’re a more occasional drinker like myself, there’s a place for you too.

Casinos everywhere, obviously: There are casinos and smaller places to gamble everywhere– in most hotels, the airport, smaller establishments. Everywhere! This should be obvious, right? Then again, it’s Vegas!  This is the second reason why I say Vegas is what you make it. However, you had better have a good idea of what you are willing to gamble and LOSE in Vegas or else you may find yourself crying on a curb because you “lost it all!” Rule of thumb: Don’t gamble what you can’t afford to lose. Personally, I had fun on the penny slots and the machine version of Craps– which I taught myself laying in bed on the second morning there. Call me boring but I wasn’t willing to risk too much money, if any at all. Overall, I did pretty well on Craps! 🙂

The only thing I wasn’t quite prepared for in the casinos was the cigarette smoke. I’ve become accustomed to living in Boston with quite strict laws on where people can/cannot smoke — mostly not in buildings. Well, all casinos that I visited allowed indoor smoking. Luckily the ceilings are very high and there is pretty good ventilation so it doesn’t linger on your clothes when you leave! However, if someone chooses to sit at a machine next to you and light one up, there is nothing you can say to the person. If I don’t go back to Vegas, this would be the one small factor to blame. I had tons of fun in the casinos, but I don’t want to die from second-hand smoke. If you are a smoker, Vegas is your heaven.  I guess I will have to not become too paranoid about the health of my lungs if I want to spend my days winning big bucks in the casinos!

Dress comfortably, especially in the daytime: I was a little worried about how to dress before arriving. My perception of Vegas was filled with images gathered from celebrity social media feeds, reality shows, movies, and the various bachelor/bachelorette party photos posted on my friends’ social media feeds. One thing I knew for sure was I didn’t feel like wearing party dresses and heels all day every day! Thank God for the Mr and other friends telling me to pack some cute comfortable outfits. Why? Well, (1) The Strip is every long, (2) most places require you to walk, (3) the hotels are so large you will inevitably need to walk a lot within the resort, and (4) sometimes you just want to be comfortable! Unless you are going to a particular event, party, club, restaurant, or you simply prefer the high fashion life, do not feel obligated to dress up in your best party outfit every day. I kept it casual in the day and only dressed up based on which restaurant or lounge I was going to at night. Since we went in late February, the weather was not even close to peak heat-wave summer temperatures. It was about 73-74 degrees in day and 55-60 degrees in the evenings– too hot for long sleeves in the day and too cold for short-sleeves in the evening. There were awkward shifts of temperature, but I made it work.

Daylight Time is Just as Fun: Vegas definitely comes to life at night. When I went to bed at 1am/2am Vegas time (4am/5am back home), Vegas was still very, very, very alive! I felt like an old grandma going to bed that early, but we can thank jet-lag for that. Personally, I love seeing new things and enjoying the beauty of a city, so daytime walks and adventures are just as appealing to me as romantic nightly dinners.

I thought Vegas would be dead in the day, but I was absolutely wrong! I must say I loved daytime and nighttime Vegas equally as much.

The Food is Amazing, everywhere: The good thing about having a lot of businesses competing with one another is that close competition makes everyone put their best foot forward! There were many different food options at every price range on The Strip. If you want fast-food chains, you got it. If you want to pig out at a buffet, there’s a home for you. If you want average priced food from a restaurant, bar, or lounge, you better not suffer from indecision. And finally, if you want to go all out on a upscale fancy restaurant, there’s plenty of options. Vegas understands that people like to drink and will also need to eat to sober up! With that said, food options are available 24/7.

In addition, most hotels will give you a credit to cover breakfast so that you only have to worry about lunch, snacks, dinner, and drinks. I don’t want to bore you with the food porn pictures from all the places I ate, but I must shout out one amazing meal that I had at Ruth’s Chris– a very upscale establishment worth every penny! The steak alone ranks at the top of the list for best meals ever eaten at any restaurant in my life! Post Ruth’s Chris, we grabbed cupcakes from Sprinkles– also one of the best cupcakes I’ve had in my life.

The smoke in the casinos could keep me from returning to Las Vegas, but the amazing food might offset the risk of second-hand smoke. Hmm, dilemma– die early or die happy?

Deals: As soon as you hit the hotels on or off The Strip, people are trying to lure you with a deal, discount, and entertainment of all sorts. As soon as I entered the hotel, I saw slots, tables, lights, and then boom– a lovely welcoming committee. I thought it was the hotel check-in staff, but I was mistaken. It was a friendly group trying to get me to go to a time-share presentation at one of the neighboring properties. Feeling duped, I initially declined and found my way to check-in. Despite the initial annoyance, there were many great deals available. From shows to food to gambling to cocktails and adventures, there were lots of discounts and deals everywhere.

One weird things that caught me off guard were the people in the streets clicking small flyers at me. About every 100 steps, someone would click a flyer at the people walking by. On it was a picture of a naked girl or exotic dancer and the location of places you can go to enjoy the X-rated landscapes. I personally declined, but I’m sure one of you out there might want to walk on the wild side.

You might meet/see the range of random to the famous on one street: I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Steve Wynn– CEO of Wynn Resorts Unlimited (developer of Wynn Properties, the Mirage, Bellagio, Treasure Island, Encore, and more)– and his wife Andrea for about 30 minutes on our second night in Vegas. It was such a wonderful and inspiring conversation! I am sure if I went to more of the top clubs in Vegas I might have run into some other popular celebrities, but clubs are not my style and I am not a fan girl.

There were other famous figures randomly sprinkled throughout The Strip — Iron Man, Superman, Walter White from Breaking Bad, and many more. Only issue is that all the latter were normal people dressed up like characters who want to charge you for taking a picture with them. If odd characters aren’t weird enough, the homeless people on The Strip will be very alarming. I actually witnessed a homeless man steal some items from the front of a Walgreens and run out being chased by the store’s staff. It reminded me that everything that glitters is not gold. Beneath the hype, wealth, success, and fame hides many people in our communities that need serious help and hope.

Summary: Overall, my perception of Vegas before the trip matched only 25% of what I actually discovered during my first trip. I know there was probably a lot of drugs, high-roller gambling, violence, and lots of “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” rendezvouses and sex happening right before my blinded eyes. But like I said, Vegas is what you make of it.  One thing I know about myself is that I love happy adventures but I don’t like wild and crazy. By the end of the trip, Vegas and I figured out how to co-exist. As stated earlier…

Oh Las Vegas, you are very different, but I like you a lot.

P.S. When I return, I would love to visit Downtown and old Las Vegas and the Fremont Street Experience. I’ve heard that both are just as exciting as The Strip!

Until next time…

Have you visited Las Vegas? What were your thoughts? What places should I check out if I go back?

Comment below or chat with me!

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